Hibernation. Bears do it. Bees do it. Fat-tailed dwarf lemurs do it. Hibernation has taken on a whole new meaning for me of late.
As the season of winter came into full view this month, I found myself quietly hunkered down in our new home, taking refuge from the cold, rainy days that had fallen upon us here in northern California. My normally outdoor-loving spirit that craves sunshine and fresh air was strangely content to snuggle up indoors with the lights turned down low and the constant burn of a balsam fir-scented candle beside me while I worked. Soft piano jazz streamed from the speaker system for days on end. I had the heater running far more often than I want to admit. The lure of hibernation never felt so good.
At some point this December, I became acutely aware that if holiday decorations were going to be strung in this brand new home of ours (as seemed a fitting thing to do in a brand new home), they’d need to be hauled out of their boxes in the attic and placed somewhere in the house. But we had just placed those boxes in the attic. And, quite frankly, the attic is a pain in the arse to get to in this new place. And then we’d have to contend with putting the decorations back in the attic at the end of the month. And let’s not even talk about the boxes that are still in the living room needing to be sorted through. So, the whole idea of decorating for the holidays felt almost laughable.
At the same time, I was raised on the seasons. So, the act of decorating, of honoring the seasons by bringing touches of them into one’s home, seems essential to me. I hail originally from Maryland — a land of 4 seasons. The seasons get in your bones and in your blood. When you’re raised on a sense of the seasons and the passage of time, your whole body recognizes the movement of the seasons and wants to embrace them, to ritualize them by some meaningful act.
And so, the happy compromise came in the form of a wreath this year. Not just any wreath, but a winter wreath, one that could crown our new home for an entire season. Moreover, I wanted a real wreath, nothing plastic or artificial, and one that could be used year after year. I’ve become all too attuned to our culture of disposable goods lately (particularly after a move, when one realizes how much stuff one accumulates over the course of a lifetime). So this wreath had to have a long life ahead of it.
My happy compromise found its realization at Arjan, a sweet floral shop on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, where the great wreath fairy, Mina Bolouri, wove her magic. She made me the perfect wreath. I’m absolutely enchanted by it. I can’t remember all the names of the flowers and branches that she used. There are some sage leaves and pine cones. There are those lovely pink and white berries. It is as though the season of winter has been ensconced into this perfect round circle, a holy crown, meant to greet everyone who comes to our door.
The act of “wreathing” our door made me realize how wonderful it was to ritualize the season in this way. I needed no other decor. Perhaps next year I’ll haul out the Christmas lights and ornaments. But this year, this wintery wreath is just enough. It’s our small way of saying Season’s Greetings, welcoming each visitor to our door with a visual breath of wintery wonder.
May the blessings of winter, the season of lights and expectation and the warmth of family and friends be yours.
December 23, 2019